Sun, Jul 29, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Chinese authorities seize fishing boats

DESIGNATED AREA Fishermen and six boats were detained by Chinese authorities and brought to China yesterday for fishing in a protected replenishing area

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Fishermen working aboard six fishing ships based in Penghu were detained along with their boats early yesterday by Chinese authorities for allegedly operating in China's waters and were later set free by the Chinese side, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday.

According to CGA officers, the Chinese coastal security authorities agreed to release the Taiwanese fishermen and their boats after the Taiwan Straits Exchange Foundation and coast patrol personnel stepped in and asked the Chinese side to set them free.

The six Penghu fishing ships and their crews were later handed over to Taiwanese officials and allowed to go home.

The CGA said in a statement yesterday that it received word yesterday at 6:30am from family members of the fishermen that their six boats had been boarded by officials from the Chinese fishing authority as they operated in waters west of the Penghu Islands (澎湖花嶼).

Chinese officials decided to seize the boats and bring them to China for investigation because they claimed the fishermen were operating in waters designated by Chinese authorities as a protected area for replenishing fishing stocks, the CGA said.

The CGA said that upon hearing the report, it immediately sent CGA cutters nearby to rescue the fishing boats. A helicopter was also dispatched to the site.

The six boats were all patroled by Chinese officials with weapons, said the CGA, adding that there were three Chinese authority boats guarding the Taiwanese fishing boats as well.

Since Chinese officials insisted on bringing the fishing boats back to China and asked the CGA cutters to leave, the CGA officials had to contact the Council of Agriculture's Fisheries Agency and the Straits Exchange Foundation for help.

After negotiations between the Taiwan authority and its Chinese counterpart, the Chinese officials agreed to release the fishing boats at around noon.

The CGA said no fishermen were injured in the incident.

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